Thursday, December 29, 2016

Easier to Ask Forgiveness than Ask Permission?

I have sometimes heard people quip, "I just did it because I thought it would be easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission." When someone says this, their hearers usually nod their heads in agreement, perhaps smiling at the thought.

But I want to ask this: is it easier (or better) to ask forgiveness than permission? It may work for quick little decisions that need to be made at work or at home. But what about in areas of life that carry greater consequences?

  • Do we "borrow" (steal) something from our workplace and then hope our boss will be forgiving?
  • Do we fudge some numbers on our taxes and hope the IRS, if they notice, will forgive the "oversight"?
  • Do we push towards intimate activity outside the bounds of marriage and then hope for forgiveness the next day?
  • Do we come home late without first making sure it's okay with those who are affected by this?

Does this philosophy help or hurt our relationship with our boss? Does it build trust or damage trust with our spouse? Is it setting a good example for our children or others who are watching?

Forgiveness is an essential aspect of our lives. We want to be people filled with grace and forgiveness, especially if we are followers of Jesus Christ. As we have been forgiven so much, so we too must be good forgivers (see Matthew 18:21-35). And we want to ask forgiveness from others when we have hurt them in some way.

However, if we presume we will be forgiven and then set out in a direction we know is sinful, is that really the right thing to do? I believe much interpersonal damage has resulted from this line of thought.

Let's not do something we know is wrong and presume people will just forgive and forget. Such actions hurt relationships with people we are closest to. Let's not allow a pithy little saying justify something we will regret later.

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